Doorways in The Sand

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Doorways in the Sand is a 1976 novel by Roger Zelazny. It tells the story of perpetual college student Fred Cassidy, who has found himself a suspect in the theft of a priceless alien artifact. While clearing his name, Fred has to deal with alien abduction, telepathic plants, overly patriotic Brits, the perils of mirror-reversal, and -- worst of all -- administrators who are trying to force him to graduate.

Tropes used in Doorways in The Sand include:

But then everything was going to turn out all right, wasn't it? It always does in the various mass entertainment media.
I sprang toward Jamie, my arms outstretched.
His hand slowed in an instant's indecision, then swung the gun back toward me and fired it, point-blank.
My chest exploded and the world went away.
So much for mass entertainment.

Chapter 9 begins, "It is good to pause periodically and reflect on the benefits to be derived from the elective system of higher education." It continues in that vein for several paragraphs before returning to the question of what happened after Fred was shot in the chest.

Zeemeister: "You could say he spilled his guts."

  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Ragma has a slight case of this: "Brace of roods" instead of double-cross, and "doodlehums" for hoodlums.
  • Noodle Incident: Dr. Merimee was discharged from the university after an incident involving a donkey, a girl, and a dwarf. It's probably best not to speculate too much.
  • On One Condition: Fred remains a student because his uncle died and left a substantial fund to provide for his education; when he graduates, the remainder of the fund will be donated to the Irish Republican Army.
  • Psychic Static
  • Renaissance Man: Since Fred has taken every undergraduate course available from Mathematics to advanced Basket-weaving, he qualifies.
  • Retired Badass: Uncle Albert appears to have been a former all-around hellraiser. He's very retired now, however, on account of being technically dead. (see Human Popsicle)
  • Roof Hopping: Fred climbs buildings, and as a result likes to get around this way. The opening scene of the novel has him navigating his way over several roofs so he can climb in a window and make it to an advising appointment more or less on time.
  • Shout-Out: A rather odd one: when Fred was forced to give up his math major in order to avoid graduating, he wrote a poem that starts, "Lobachevsky alone has looked on beauty bare."
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Morty Zeemeister and Jamie Buckler.